Last week bronze medal Olympian Lyndon Rush joined the Town of Blackfalds during the Volunteer Appreciation event, where two citizens were acknowledged for their community impact.
Rebekka Flyer, 15, was awarded the Dylan Stork Youth Ambassador Award for her dedication to the Central Alberta Home School Choir, a group that hosts concerts to support an orphanage in Mwanza, Tanzania.
Jeanette Edwards was presented with the Carol Simpson Volunteer of the Year Award for her active engagement in the town of Blackfalds, particularly with the seniors’ Cheemo Club. As well, Edwards has been involved in a number of other volunteer opportunities in her community.
“Volunteering is something that I’ve always wanted to do. When my kids were growing up I volunteered with their bowling and other things like that. In Blackfalds, it’s such a small community and you get to know people that you want to help. I just love to help people the best I can. I was overwhelmed being given this award,” Edwards said.
After the community awards were presented, Lyndon Rush took to the stage to share how volunteering had impacted his life and career. He also provided insight on his journey to the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics as part of Canada’s bobsled team.
“The biggest way I’ve been impacted by volunteers has been through coaches. I started playing sports really young and in so many of my formative years, I was impacted by these men and women that were volunteering to help me have fun at a sport,” Rush said.
“Along the way, coaches are always trying to teach you. They know that almost none of these kids are going to be professionals, so they teach other skills as well. They teach you things like to be good in your community.”
Rush had taken part in many sports as a child growing up in Humboldt, Saskatchewan. He excelled in football in his high school years, and was encouraged to partake in university football, which he did at the University of Saskatchewan for five years.
During his time in high school, Rush was impacted by a particular coach who encouraged him to pursue an athletic career.
“We had a football coach in high school who was an RCMP member in my town. He was a busy guy, and I remember it was hard for him to get to practices a lot, but he was always there. Because he was a police officer, he kind of knew which kids were getting into trouble or the directions they were going. I remember him talking to me personally, and saying he knew I wasn’t getting myself into trouble,” Rush said.
“He encouraged me a lot. I was a good football player in high school, and they thought I’d play in university – that’s huge because you get your education paid for. (Coach Horsley) really encouraged me to stay out of trouble, and to keep up with my sports.”
Rush, along with the help of many volunteers and coaches, eventually went on to be a part of the Canadian Olympic bobsled team in 2010, receiving a bronze medal in four-man bobsled. Currently, he resides in Red Deer with his family, where he and his wife are engaged in giving back to their community.
“My wife is very involved with our church, and does a lot of volunteering there. They do so many different things, from making meals for someone who is sick to organizing fundraisers. I’m on the board of the Red Deer BMX club, where I train the guys,” he said.
He added that as his children grow, he hopes to become an active coach in their lives for whatever sports they pursue.